Archive for October, 2010

2011 AT Regulatory Conference: Best Practices

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Anne Berry, ATC, receiving the Public Advocacy Award at the 2009 AT Regulatory Conference.

"Leaders need to be involved on both an organizational and a political or legislative level.  Overall, I learned a lot about the legislative and regulatory process and appreciate the motivation to be a part of this conference. "

 - 2009 AT Regulatory Conference Attendee

The 2011 Athletic Trainer Regulatory Conference will be July 8-9 in downtown Omaha at the DoubleTree Hotel, Nebraska. “Best Practices” is the focus of the conference.  The purpose of the conference is to create a network of communication among state athletic trainer leadership and state regulatory agencies.  The BOC prides itself on producing thought provoking sessions that energize the audience. 

The conference is open to anyone interested in learning about athletic trainer regulation and leadership.  Registration will open in March 2011.  Additional conference details will be available on the BOC website.

Work-Life Balance: Part 1 Looking at Life from Both Sides

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

While attending the Ohio Athletic Trainers' Association  annual meeting last spring, I stopped into a session where members of the Ohio AT Hall of Fame took questions from AT students. One of the questions that was asked went something like this: "How do I explain why I have to miss  family holidays , Thanksgiving or others, because of my job?"

The question made me stop and think.... "Does any other healthcare professions such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, etc. ask the same questions of their hall of famers?"

I concluded, to myself, not likely.
Do Athletic Training students see themselves as healthcare professionals? Holidays, weekend, nights, etc. are all a part of being a health care providers. While families and friends don't want you to miss your share of the turkey and pumpkin pie, they know you have to go to work. And if there is a special family event, they probably find a way to change shifts with someone, right? Quality of life is important to everyone and has been linked to increased patient safety and satisfaction. The NCAA has a publication related to work and life balance in intercollegiate athletics. Are there barriers to achieving work-life balance in athletic training that we as practitioners can change?
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

Why Choose a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Athletic Trainers (ATs) are personally involved with their patients from a constant, and often daily, interaction. ATs have the ability to see their patients where they work, in real time, and gain the perspective essential in making rehabilitation not only a return to daily living activities, but a practical ability to continue the job- especially those who require a lot of physical demands and experience frequent changes in the working environment, such as individuals in the military who benefit from athletic training services.

Other advantages that ATs provide:

• Reduction in work hours/days due to injury

• Injury prevention assessment and implementation

• Risk management assessment

• Concussion/mild traumatic brain injury evaluation and monitoring

• Daily rehabilitation without loss of physical conditioning

• Implementation of strength and conditioning programs

• Identify and retrain improper body mechanics

• On-site evaluation and treatment of injury and illness

• Daily interaction with patients

What is the Value of Certification?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

As leaders in healthcare, it is necessary for Athletic Trainers (ATs) to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to be a competent professional. BOC Certified ATs are graduates of accredited programs who pass the national certification examination administered by the Board of Certification (BOC), and advance their skills and knowledge through continuing education (CE).

Certification is a voluntary process of validating knowledge, skills and abilities beyond the scope of AT licensure. AT licensure measures entry-level competence, while by being certified, ATs validate their expert knowledge and skills and therefore position themselves for appropriate recognition and a critical sense of confidence and achievement.

Certification validates specialty knowledge, experience and clinical judgment. Athletic Training certification benefits patients and families, employers, and ATs.

ATs, be proud of what you do and in your certification. Be proud to wear your credentials and display your certification plaque or certificate. Be proud to encourage others to become certified.

Healthcare providers, show your support BOC certified Athletic Trainers and acknowledge the importance of having these healthcare professionals on your team.

The Athletic Trainer Skill Set

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

I was speaking with a group of athletic trainers at their state meeting.  This group was diverse in a variety of ways: age, gender, years of practice and practice setting experience to name just a few. I asked the group to think of their resume. In the current economy employers are looking for individuals that can provide the greatest service and value to their organization.

I said that I believe it is very common for Athletic Trainers to forget about the diverse skill set they bring to any job. We sometimes get too caught up in the “athletic” part of our profession’s title and forget the skill set it takes to do our jobs. This is the foundation of our profession – the skill set and it is very attractive to many employers. As we continued our discussion, we brainstormed a short list of skills and knowledge that an Athletic Trainer may not think of commonly.  The list provides an opportunity to look at ways to communicate the "value added" the athletic trainer brings to any organization.

Here's the start of our list. Each of these is supported in the BOC Role Delineation Study/Practice Analysis and the research and professional writings in our field. We have Athletic Trainers using their many talents in a variety of ways. Do you have more to add to the list?

  • A highly educated professional
  • Self-starter, highly motivated for success of patient/client outcomes
  • Committed to life-long learning
  • Demonstrated ability to multitask
  • Experienced in working in high pressure environments
  • Experienced in working with diverse populations
  • Ability to work in cross-functional teams
  • Ability to take complex issues and communicate them to non-medical individuals
  • Knowledge of risk management principles
  • Knowledge of the  healthcare environment
  • Knowledge of HIPPA, FERPA and legal requirements of confidentiality, patient privacy, etc.
  • Knowledge of insurance reimbursement process
  • Knowledge and skill in emergency preparation, planning and execution of plans
  • Knowledge of medical terminology
  • Experience in designing and managing budgets
  • Knowledge of research design and skill in interpreting research studies
  • Interpersonal communication skills, both one-on-one or with groups
  • Skill in case management
  • Strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to lead and set short and long-term goals for self and others

Concussion Education

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

You’ve heard about Athletic Trainers (ATs) in the media more in the past three months than ever before. With the start of this years’ football season, the constant conversation has been about concussions. A perfect opportunity for ATs to stand-up and stand-out as the healthcare provider of choice and necessity! Concussions (a.k.a. mild traumatic brain injuries) are being recognized for their seriousness. It’s not OK anymore to refer to a "bell-ringing" or "cleaning of the cobwebs.”  Numerous states have enacted laws concerning return to play. Parents, administrators, physicians and athletes are talking about this as an “epidemic” in sports, and not just football.

If you Google for any combination of the following:  sports, concussion, athletic trainers, brain injuries, experts you’ll get at least 500,000 hits. But more important than all the mass media, is the impact the BOC certified and licensed Athletic Trainer can have on their patients and athletes locally. There are a number of resources available from the NATA, the NCAA,  the National Federation of High Schools, and the NFL.

Athletic Trainers are the only healthcare professional trained in the full spectrum of care for these patients; prevention, recognition, diagnosis, immediate care and return to play decision. The BOC Role Delineation Study/Practice Analysis, Sixth Edition (RD/PA6) and the NATA Educational Competencies clearly outline the education, training and skill that the BOC exam assesses.  The evidence from research that supports the tasks and knowledge are contained in the document.

How are you using this opportunity to educate those you come into contact with about your role as a healthcare providers and the importance of having a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer as a member of the healthcare team?

Adult Learning Styles and Continuing Education

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

In 2001, the BOC began a longitudinal study to answer the question "Do the BOC CE requirements really ensure an Athletic Trainer can continue to practice safely and effectively?" In the nine years since the BOC Board of Directors established the Task Force on Continuing Professional Education we know a few things - not all necessarily new, but none the less still worth sharing.

First, we adults (or mature practitioners as I like to refer to myself) all have a preference for how we like to learn. The BOC has been very lucky to work with Dr. Gary Conti, one of the creators of the ATLAS tool to assess learning style.

(Assessing The Learning Strategies of AdultS) 

Knowing how you learn can assist you when making decisions regarding the format of continuing education activities (e.g., workshop, lecture, observation, guided practice).

Personally, when I did the assessment I was classified as a problem solver, subgroup 2. Here is the information I received after I did the short assessment on the ATLAS site:

Problem Solvers

  Description: Learners who rely heavily on all the strategies in the area of critical thinking. Subgroup 1 likes to plan for the best way to proceed with the learning task while Subgroup 2 is more concerned with assuring that they use the most appropriate resources for the learning task.
  Characteristics: Test assumptions, generate alternatives, practice conditional acceptance, as well as adjusting their learning process, use many external aids, and identify many of resources. Like to use human resources and usually do not do well on multiple-choice tests.
  Instructor: Provide an environment of practical experimentation, give examples from personal experience, assess learning with open-ended questions and problem- solving activities.


OK - so this wasn't a HUGE surprise to me. But when I started thinking about the choices I have made in the past, choices on what type of activities to attend, I realized I probably wasted a lot of time and money. I can't think of many times when sitting in a lecture hall caused me to change how I delivered care to my patients. I knew it in my gut but that's how everyone was "getting their CE".  Efficient use of my time and dollars would be to participate in something like a Grand Rounds or Journal Club - something that presents a problem, allows me to identify resources, research the problem, discuss with others and come up with a couple solutions  to the problem would be great. And these types of programs exist? Where????

Well they do exist, but not as prolifically in athletic training as it is with other health care professions. Some groups of AT professionals have formed their own "company" for continuing education and they create activities that work for their group such as Journal Clubs and Grand Rounds-like activities.

Too often as consumers of educational programs we (the AT) had a  "take what we can get" attitude regarding continuing education instead of putting pressure on education providers (a.k.a. demanding with our $$) to be more creative (which may be less cost-efficient) and really helps me learn something that will make a difference in how I practice. The BOC is investigating new methods and working with our network of BOC Approved Providers to help provide you a wider variety of activities in the future.

What type of "outside the box" activities have been learning tools for you? How can they be incorporated into formal continuing education requirements?